DT 26639 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26639

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26639

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Hola from the Vega Baja.  Another excellent Wednesday puzzle today. On the whole it’s not too hard but it does have the usual 2 or 3 of a distinctly tricky nature. I’ve given it 2* for overall difficulty but if you want to disagree just put your own rating in a post and I’ll average them all as I did last week.

My favourites are in blue and the answers can be seen by highlighting the space between the curly brackets. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.  You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a.    The main issue is flavour (6)
{SEASON} – A word meaning to enhance flavour, by adding salt and pepper perhaps, is a charade of a word for ‘the main’ (3) and issue (3), as in offspring.

4a.     Still on a rocking horse? (8)
{STALLION} – A male horse is an anagram (rocking) of STILL ON A.  A nice easy anagram to get you started – this was my first in.

9a.     Become aware of a trail left by boat heading for Norway (6)
{AWAKEN} – To become aware, in the morning perhaps, is A (from the clue), the trail left in the water by a boat and N (heading for Norway). Not had a boat picture for a while – couldn’t resist this one!

10a.     Filter last of results in front of coach (8)
{STRAINER} – Take S (last of resultS) followed by a coach, in the sporting sense, and you’ll get a type of filter often used to catch tea leaves.

12a.     Master agents represented such powerful people (8)
{MAGNATES} – The usual abbreviation for Master of Arts followed by an anagram (represented) of AGENTS gives some powerful people, especially powerful businessmen. You nearly got a picture of Rupert Murdoch here but I thought better of it!

13a.     Writer crossing road finds somewhere to eat (6)
{BISTRO} – Take a common word for a ballpoint pen (writer) and place it around (crossing) the abbreviation for street (road) and you get a small, friendly restaurant.

15a.     Some is unusual — and rational — concerning tremors (13)
{SEISMOLOGICAL} –An adjective meaning to do with earth tremors is made up of an anagram (unusual) of SOME IS followed by a word meaning rational or clear thinking. Not keen on the surface reading of this one!

18a.     Credit arrangement for relation after accusation (6,7)
{CHARGE ACCOUNT} – This type of credit arrangement, which you might have in a department store perhaps, is a word for accusation (6) followed by a relation in the sense of storytelling.

20a.    Horses jumping the Spanish ropes (6)
{BELAYS} – This is a nautical term for tying off a rope. Put some chestnut horses around (jumping) the Spanish word for ‘the’. Being a sailor I didn’t have any trouble with this one!

22a.     Most of shifts will incorporate a good competition for riders (8)
{DRESSAGE} – Think lady’s clothing! Take another word for shifts and remove the last letter (most of) and insert (will incorporate) A and G(ood) to get the first part of a 3 day event for horses.

24a.     Accountant — the ultimate in economy of hearing (8)
{AUDITORY} – The accountant who checks a company’s books at the end of the year followed by Y (ultimate in economY) gives an adjective meaning ‘to do with hearing’.

25a.     Catch childminder (6)
{SITTER} – This is the sort of catch that it’s very embarrassing to drop! It’s also a term for someone who looks after your children while you are out. I’ve dropped quite a few of these in my time! – upsets the bowler no end!

26a.     Blow up having made tiny changes (8)
{DYNAMITE} – An anagram (changes) of MADE TINY gives a word meaning to blow up, not inflate but explode! It’s also the stuff you may use to carry out said blowing up!

27a.     Criticises socks (6)
{KNOCKS} – Double definition. A word meaning criticises also means socks, in the sense of bashes or hits. It took all 3 checkers and a fair bit of head-scratching to get this one!


1d.     Smooth-talking host after case of sexism (6)
{SMARMY} – A word meaning smooth-talking or oily is a host, as in large body of men, placed after SM (case of SexisM).

2d.     The painlessness of drivers accepting leasing arrangement (9)
{ANALGESIA} – This painlessness is the initials of a motoring organisation placed around (accepting) an anagram (arrangement) of LEASING.

3d.     Software required by surgeon? (9,6)
{OPERATING SYSTEM} – The software that runs your computer is also something that a surgeon might be said to have.

5d.     Bear short on energy? (4)
{TOTE} – Short here is a small glass of whisky. Place E(nergy) on the end to get a word meaning bear, in the sense of carry.

6d.     It is, isn’t it? (7,8)
{LEADING QUESTION} – This is an all-in-one (I think!). The whole clue is an example of the answer, something frowned upon by the judge when a barrister asks one in court. Tricky one to explain but it’s my favourite. It’s one of those where the clang of the penny dropping started dogs barking all round the village!

7d.     Popular idiot’s common supplementary question? (5)
{INNIT} – A ‘common’ way of saying the second half of the previous clue is also a supplementary and largely unnecessary question often added to the end of a statement of fact. It’s a charade of IN (popular) and NIT (idiot).  I wonder if Jay put these 2 next to each other to help me out! Not sure how I could have explained it without 6d!

8d.     Point dart left and finally play, in a limited way (8)
{NARROWLY} – A charade of N(orth), a slang term for a dart (as in the pub game), L(eft) and Y (finally plaY) gives a word meaning ‘in a limited way’.

11d.     Moderate shifts with no love for lamb, say (3,4)
{RED MEAT} – Lamb is an example (say) of this. Take the O out of moderate (no love) and make an anagram (shifts) of what’s left.

14d.     Bill King perhaps supports mountain climbing (7)
{PLACARD} – Definition is bill, in the sense of an advert or something a demonstrator may carry. Take a Swiss mountain and reverse it (climbing in a down clue). After it place (supports) something that a king is an example of (king perhaps). Not 100% sure the definition works in this one.

16d.     New chart act grabs one as emotionally purifying (9)
{CATHARTIC} – An adjective to describe something emotionally purifying is an anagram (new) of CHART ACT with I inserted (grabs one).

17d.     Strike-breaking graduate on the way home for a weapon (8)
{SCABBARD} – The ‘home’ for your sword is a strike breaker followed by one of the usual graduates and the abbreviation for road.

19d.     Try this outside suit (6)
{HEARTS} – Try in the sense of a court case followed by TS (ThiS outside) gives one of the suits in a pack of cards. The king in 14d might be one of these!

21d.     City office is loaded (5)
{LADEN} – The abbreviation for the American city of Angels followed by and office or study gives a word meaning loaded.

23d.     Date sailor gets up for dash (4)
{DRAT} – Definition is dash, as an exclamation. An alternative is made up of D(ate) and one of the usual sailors reversed (gets up in a down clue). I said something a lot stronger than this when I realised I’d mis-typed 15a so was having a lot of trouble with 14d!

There are several good clues in this puzzle but my favourite has to be 6d

The Quick crossword pun: {history}+ {onyx} = {histrionics}

46 comments on “DT 26639

  1. Hola Pommers, que tal? Hope all is well in your part of the world? I found this ok today but still a three star, as I got held up on 25a and 19d for a while, didn’t need your hints but still need my books and machines most days!! 15a I thought didn’t really read properly, when do you ever say ‘some is’ ! If I had to pick a favourite today it would probably be 1a, I still had that ‘wild mare’ in my head when reading 4a! Good luck all from a very wet West Wales at the moment, I think its a case of dodging heavy showers today :-( Hope the sun is shining for all of you

    1. Morning Mary, you’re an early bird today!
      I’m well thanks and so is pommette although she’s been having a bit of toothache recently but it seems to have gone away now! Her dentist is on hols until the end of the month and she doesn’t want to go to another one (coward when it comes to dentists!). Hope you’re OK too!
      Agree about 15a. It should read some are, as ‘some’ implies more than one, but then the enagram don’t work!

      1. I was lucky to get on at first attempt today lizwhiz1 but have had daily problems with it since ‘the breakdown’ !!

      2. Poor Pomette, toothach is a horrible thing and so is visiting the dentist, I sympathise all the way :-( Yes I am early today, thought it was going to be a nice day but it’s horrible so far! Finishing early doesn’t necessarily mean finishing quickly, all depends what time you start! :-(

    2. If you use Some Is, you do not get the anagramatical part of the clue. Many years ago, I was a Seismologist, I was not a Searemologist.

  2. Yet again the website is unavailable- deplorable service! :( Will have to wait and try later….

      1. A BIG problem for you as opposed to an irritation to me… have sent yet more e mails of complaint, wich will achieve nothing- hope others are complaining too!

  3. Ok puzzle today but I would give it 3 star for difficulty mainly due to 20a and 5d, odd clues I thought.
    Finished it with some nice clues, favourite I would agree with Mary def 1a, very clever. Liked 22a as well although hated that part when I was eventing. Thx to Pommers for the clues which I needed to explain some of my answers esp 12a, couldn’t for the life of me see the writer!

  4. Does anyone else notice similarities in answers/clues on consecutive days sometimes? eg yesterdays 15a and todays 11d and yesterdays 9a and todays 4a, coincidence? it seems to happen quite often

  5. Enjoyable but not too difficult today. Some nice use of some relatively obscure words in the answers, but can’t say I’m too keen on seeing modern slang being used (7D). Enjoyed 15A as that used to be my profession and thought 6D was excellent.

    Thought it was supposed to be hammering down in the West Country today – nothing but sun so far, might have to cut the grass after all. Grrrrrrr.

  6. Having finally got on the website I have finished all too quickly… although I did enjoy it. I loved 7d especially following the clue in 6d-all seemed so obvious. Off to tidy up the garden as the weather is OK-white sky and warm here in Canterbury :)

  7. A particularly easy Jay I thought today – I usually take longer with one of his but I did enjoy myself, so thank you to him. I liked both 6 and 7d. Thanks to Pommers for the blog and commiserations to Pommette about the toothache.

    The Toughie didn’t take me long either and was enjoyable so give it a go.

  8. A nice accompaniment to my coffee this morning. Thanks to Jay, and to Pommers for the review.

  9. 6d didn’t work for me at all, and I don’t think there was anything much to get excited about today, and I hate the word at 7d. Don’t I sound grumpy today? It must be the heat getting to me. It’s rare I have a siesta but might just be tempted this afternoon.

    1. I thought that 6d was very clever. “It” comes before, i.e. is leading, the question. Thanks to Jay and Pommers.

  10. Pommers, you’re lucky it takes a large penny dropping to set the dogs off barking in your village. They start up with no provocation here, usually just after I’ve commented on how lovely and quiet it is.

  11. Found today’s quite easy, so a 2* for me, but still enjoyable. I nearly came a cropper with 2d early on as I ended it with a ‘c’, but I couldn’t see what AC had to do with drivers; I started thinking ‘it would work if it was AA’, and then the penny dropped, luckily! Just needed the explanation for 21d – the only ‘city’ I could see was the well-known Yemen seaport (well-known if you do crosswords, anyway!) and that got me nowhere, so thanks for that Pommers. I agree with Mary today, with my favourite being 1a, but I also liked 5 & 6d. Thanks Jay.

    Pommette, if you have any and can handle the flavour, try sucking cloves – they’re supposed to be very good for 2d in teeth. :-)

    1. Pomette, Gin is even better then cloves. If you want some short term relief, can stand the experience and can get hold of some, try a sip of Aftershock and just hold it in your mouth over the bad tooth – will numb that area of the mouth for a while

      1. I always wondered what Aftershock was for, other than its vivid colours resembling those of the flag of Azerbaijan!

  12. Thanks to the setter for a nice puzzle, and to Pommers for the hints. Didn’t find this too difficult, but needed the hints for 14 & 19 down, wasn’t thinking playing cards :-) Favourites were 3d & 4a.

  13. Quite tricky I thought, but finally finished without the hints – except for 23d, for which no penny would drop!! Got 25a but didn’t understand why except for the baby-minding bit – another blankety-blank cricket clue, it seems!! Take issue with 17d as it isn’t a weapon, it’s what the weapon is sheathed in! Or am I missing someting here? Overall most enjoyable and thanks for hints Pommers.

    1. Mary’s got it right – the definition is ‘home for weapon’ not ‘weapon’. Thanks Mary!

  14. Solved this one after a day largely wasted at the hospital – they had mixed up my dates – but my daughter threw the book at them!

    Faves for me were : 13a, 22a, 3d & 6d.

  15. Greetings pommers. No half marks this week I promise. All in all this was a fill it in as you go with two exceptions. 27a had me stumped for a while. Ditto your head scratching on that one. I also had a problem with 6d. The answer was fairly obvious but, I had to convince myself. I dislike 7d rather a lot. My fave is 17d which I thought had a nice lilt to it. A good solid 2* for difficulty for me and also agree with your 3* for fun (7d excepted).

  16. Thanks everyone for your hints and tips on toothache. I tried all the remedies & the port & brandy was the most satisfying.
    Come to the conclusion though that it’s an ear infection that was tracking into the sinuses and affecting the nerves – making me think it’s toothache.
    All gone away now the ear infection’s gone with no remedial action. TMI I know

    Anyway – back to today’s Jay. I’d rate it 3*.
    Solved most of it but was totally stumped ( :D) by the wordplay of 25a even though I had the answer. And needed help from my own personal blogger to get 14d and 27a.

    Thanks though to Jay and t’other half for another enjoyable Wednesday.

  17. OK, average of poster’s star rating today is 2.6! So, not too difficult, but I thought 20a, and 6d and 22a were well into 3* category! 25a and 27a are gettable from one half of the double definition but the second half may give pause for thought – and then a big D’oh!

  18. Arrived late after a glorious day in the garden. raining heavily at the moment. I do not usually get away with a Jay offering but today was different with the exception of 6D. Even after reading the blog I do not get it.
    Did not realise there were so many cures for toothache, my sympathy goes out to any sufferers.
    Thanks to Jay and Pommers for the hints.

    1. Hi Pete
      A leading question is one where you give the required answer first and then try to get the person questioned to confirm it. Example – ‘You own a red car, don’t you?’. The non-leading question would be ‘what colour is your car?’.See the difference? This clue in itself is an example of the first sort of question.
      I thought it was very clever but see the personal comment of the blog!

  19. There were a few here that held me up so I described it as hard-ish (the Toughie being easy-ish today). 6d worked for me and was ny favourite. Thanks to pommers for the review and Jay for the puzzle.

  20. I agree a few difficulties not helped by my putting manual instead of s*****m for 3d and putting dart instead of d***t so got a bit stuck in the South West corner today. I thought 1a brilliant closely followed by 6d.

  21. Rather tricky for me! Glad I took yesterdays advice from you , Pommers. Still running a day late, though.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Jac
      Parts of this were a bit tricky, but overall I thought it OK. However lots of people thought it a bit harder than my 2* rating – not as many as last week though!

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